Develop MN 2016 Plan

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In a recent article, I introduced the centralized oligarchy, Minnesota Association of Development Organizations (MADO). I had also mentioned that they had created an overarching comprehensive plan for all of Greater Minnesota, called the Develop MN 2016 Plan. It’s stated purpose is to align economic development efforts across Greater MN.

The document puts forth a number of ideals

  • Collective voice/collective leadership
  • Providing access to safe and affordable housing
  • Preserved and protected natural resources
  • Financing options that support sustainability, diversity, and expansion
  • Well-developed and maintained water, sewer, communications, and transportation systems
  • Partner with local, regional, state, and federal partners for implementation

MADO brought in the St Cloud Quad counties and the 11 counties of southeastern MN to participate in development process. They drafted 10 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies to guide all of the change they are looking to implement.

Remember how we said that they all steal ideas from each other, making them all the same? They state right in the plan that this was drafted by reviewing best practices by the U.S. Economic Development Association (EDA), National Association of Development Organizations (NADO), and examples of statewide comprehensive plans developed in other states. They use buzzwords like “economic resiliency”. “Resiliency” is a buzzword used by groups like ICLEI.

They base all of their on 4 Cornerstones: Human Capital, Economic Competitiveness, Community Resources, and Foundational Assets.

Human Capital: Labor Force- Greater MN’s prime labor force (25-54) is projected to decline by 5.2% by 2025, yet they want to grow labor force participation by 2% between by 2021. They think that they can accomplish this by “expanding the participation of mature workers to make up for the shortage of new workforce entrants” and increase childcare options so parents can join the workforce. So by getting people to delay retirement and offering welfare to pay for childcare, that will make up for people not entering the workforce. What happens when the mature workers do retire or pass on? Who replaces them? The new crop of mature workers are already working. They also believe that by increasing the percentage of people who attain bachelors degrees will help. Won’t that just take people from one industry and place them in another? That just creates a worker deficiency somewhere else. One of the ways they want to do this is “embracing emerging populations through targeted educational programs”. In other words, providing education for immigrants for professional training. How do they plan to attract immigrant communities to come?

Economic Competitiveness: The plan touts the values of entrepreneurship and innovation. They think, however, that small business growth happens when small businesses obtain more access to public and private funds. They call to utilize public-private partnerships for increased lending. They want to fully fund regional Small Business Development Centers at the state level.

Community Resources Cornerstone: They want to actively recruit and nurture emerging community leaders. They are waiting for you. They are looking to form networking groups, development opportunities, and succession planning programs. Succession planning groups? Like, naming an heir-apparent? Let’s get involved. We can own the future! Other goals center around arts and culture, tourism, natural resources, and water quality. Of course the natural resources section is full of climate change talk and making sure we reduce our carbon footprint, by advocating for comprehensive plans and land-use policies that prioritize these actions.

Foundational Assets: Under Broadband Access, they claim that 88.29% of Minnesota in under-served with affordable, high speed broadband. Affordable broadband? Is that some new kind of right? Really? Guess what, they want to advocate for state and federal funding to make you pay for it. Under transportation, they want increased funding and to make local governments take sustainability and resiliency into account. Of course we should plan for the future and for emergencies, but keep in mind, these are both loaded buzzwords. The next section is “Active Living” (speak of buzzwords). This pushes a designation called a “Bicycle Friendly Community Program” of which 13 communities in Greater MN are so designated. The goal is to increase the number of bikeable communities. They also want to increase the number of communities that adopt a Complete Streets policy. They want to increase funding for bikes, pedestrians, and regional trails. There’s even a transit section, where they claim a need to fill an increasing “mobility gap” by funding more rural public transit systems. In “Water-Wastewater Infrastructure”, they want to secure funding for infrastructure, especially as tied to affordable housing. Yep. Affordable housing, transitional housing, funding for demolishing “blighted” housing… the housing section advocates for all the same concepts that the Metropolitan Council does for the Metro.

As you can see, there is so much here that is the same as in other urban and suburban comprehensive plans. MADO is lobbying for a single, unified vision across MN. Why? Are the needs really the same for the forests of northern MN, the plains of western MN, or the valleys in the south? Absolutely not! Therefore the plans should be unique to not only the areas, but the very cities and townships they serve. Your plans have seen the light of day. Sorry, not sorry.

Jason Bradley is an entrepreneur in the music industry (Jason Bradley Live and Paper Lanterns Intl) and owns a consulting/advocacy/education firm that specializes in non-partisan politics (Community Solutions MN). Jason Bradley helps others to reach their goals in music and reduce the size and influence of government.

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